MODELING: Rio Grande Auto Car Build #7

Well, I have finally have some time to add another chapter to the Rio Grand project.  I have been working on the car but not writing about it.   This posting covers the work on the car ends and constructing the ladders.


I discovered a problem with how I constructed the ends.  They were too short by four inches on the bottom. I was trying to line up the end grab iron with the side grab iron and discovered that the end grab wasn’t on a major wale (rib).  The picture shown below is before I discovered the problem.


At this point, I thought that I was home free on the end fabrication.

I added a .080″ x .030″ strip on the bottom of the end.  Once the joint is dry, I scraped and sanded the joint to ensure the it would not be an eyesore once painted.  I added the end grab irons at this stage.   Prepping the end before assembly will save grief trying to drill and fit the grab irons.   Two .040″ strips were added to support the tack board.  I added .020″ Tichy rivets to the strips.  The prototype end has a riveted strip across the top.  I made one by punching rivets into a .060″ styrene strip.

I predrilled the B end for the brake platform supports.  The parts are from Chooch.  The supports will be installed once the car is nearing completion.

The prototype car used an Ajax hand brake. I mounted the gearbox to the end.  The lower edge of the end received “L” shaped .080″ pieces to support the poling pocket.

The poling pockets were made from .125″ styrene rod and shaped with a .190″ ball cutter.  This was done in my lathe.


The prototype had Wine ladders with an 18.5″ rung spacing. Wine ladders were unique in that the rungs are inserted in the stile.  Typical ladders are riveted together.  I developed a technique for custom building ladders using brass wire and square stock.

Rung spacing is set with this “C” shaped piece of .040 styrene.

The first step is to layout the rung spacing and the cutout.  I use a scriber to cut a “V” groove where the rungs will go.  The idea is that the .015″ wire will rest in the groove.  I tape the rungs in-place using Tamiya masking tape.  It is thin and you can see if the rung has popped out of the groove.

The ladder stiles are cut from 1/32″ square brass  that I purchased from Special Shapes.  A jig for the stiles was made from scale wood.  The whole deal is then soldered together.  Try using either a solder paste or a thick flux to do the job,

After trimming the wire, the ladder will look like this.   I used an abrasive disk to clean the wire flush with the stile.  I tapered the wire ends with the abrasive wheel.   The last step is to wash the part and then using a blackening agent to “prime” the ladder.  It took me about two hours to make four ladders.

The next installment will cover the underframe finally.

Happy Trails,



6 thoughts on “MODELING: Rio Grande Auto Car Build #7

  1. The ladders look great. I have built some up but I will modify my method to use your idea of trimming and tapering the rungs after soldering.
    Will you be showing how you mount the ladders later on?

  2. Hi Gene
    Many thanks for your blog.
    Very informative.
    I have just commenced modelling american prototype in O scale.
    I have a PSC SD40 which appears to have the incorrect no on it 9702, which from my review from Strapacs book belongs to SD45.
    Could you recommend decal supplier so i can change to 84hundred series.
    I also aquired SD7 PSC the real loco has what appears to be a fueling standpipe to the fuel tank raised up to above handrail height as well as exhaust from engineers long hood side. I noticed lee had a brass stand pipe added to the RS loco in your article. I checked with PSC diesel parts cat they dont have one any advise where to locate one plus exhaust.
    Jim Lewis

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